I have some customers who owe money that have not paid. I don't have written agreement for the work I have worked for them a long time without a problem. Now some aren't paying. Can I charge interest on the past due balances without a written agreement? The invoices they get say that interest will acrue on past due balances. What is the law on this, do I need them to agree in writing or what if they paid finance charges in the past? Is that acceptance of my policy? Will a court let me go after interest along with the past due balances if I have to take them to court?
You don't have an enforceable contract, and you cannot unilaterally impose terms on someone. That is akin to sending an invoice saying, "If you fail to pay in 90 days, Company X will seize your firstborn." While that sounds ridiculous, it is just as ridiculous as any other term that you attempt to impose when the parties did not agree to it when entering into the contract.
You need to hire a business attorney who will write enforceable contracts for you. Doing it your way will continue to cost you money.
The global answer to your issue is that you have so many basic questions about operating a business that it should act like a red flag that you need to retain a lawyer to handle your business issues before you do something terribly foolish like think you are also a trial lawyer and start filing lawsuits. For example, starting with NO you can't charge interest after the fact randomly just because your angry that clients haven't paid you. IF you were to do so, and worse, try to collect on such claims you could run into a Pandora's box of misery, starting with violations of Fla. Stat. 501.201, FCRA or the FCCPA if any of the accounts at issue are consumers for example. Your best bet is to get with a good transactional business lawyer and work with him to create PROPER contracts, policies and procedures going forward to avoid the problems you describe.
Responses provided represent entirely un-researched, casual opinions and cannot be relied upon in any way or manner as legal advice. No communication here is intended to establish an attorney-client relationship.
You have to disclose finance charges up front. You cannot add them after the fact. Your best bet is to offer a discount if they pay off their balance.
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